Pornography, Erectile Dysfunction And Libido

Can pornography and masturbation cause erectile dysfunction and a loss of libido? What happens in the brain of a man during over-exposure to pornography and masturbation. Read on and I will tell you. I will also tell you what happened to me when I over-exposed myself to pornography and sexual stimulation. And I will tell you what happened when I stopped this.

 

Pornography Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction and Libido Issues

One thing that made zero sense to me while I was struggling with erectile dysfunction and an almost non-existent libido, was that I was easily able to achieve and keep erections while masturbating and watching porn. But it would normally be impossible to either get hard or stay hard while having, or attempting to have, sex. I couldn’t understand why the real thing would give me less pleasure than what I was getting from pleasing myself. I mean, after all it was the real thing – shouldn’t it be better than anything else?

I sometimes even watched a little bit of porn right before having sex just to test that I was able to get an erection. This normally always produced an erection. But when it was time for the real thing, I would go limp! Why on earth was this happening? What was going on?

Many guys watch porn and masturbate. I was certainly no exception and I would in periods engage in this frequently. I liked it because it produced very desirable sensations in me. And with a click of a mouse, I could be attacked by an army of ridiculously attractive and available females. I could choose exactly what I wanted, who I wanted and when I wanted it. It was great. It was so great it almost became addictive.

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In fact, although there is limited data on porn addiction, it is believed to be a relatively common addiction among certain men. One key reason why porn may become addictive, is because it is so incredibly accessible. It is basically available anywhere and anytime. All a person needs is a device that can connect to the internet and an internet connection. A second reason pornography becomes addictive is because it has become very real. Image, video and sound quality is now superb, and therefore the lines between virtual reality and real life become blurred. Thirdly, it can cause addiction because it offers novelty. Millions and millions of novel partners. The key is novel, as a man is programmed by evolution to desire to pass on his genes to a large number of partners.

In today’s age, internet pornography has therefore become a very desirable tool for sexual gratification. And because it is such a desirable tool, many men use it, and many men also abuse it. I would actually claim from personal experience, that anything beyond very limited use falls in the abuse category. I say this because porn can very easily wreck havoc with normal sexual functions. By watching porn and masturbating, what the user in fact does, is to flush and overwhelm his brain with a cocktail of happy chemicals, of which dopamine is the most prominent one.

The desire and motivation to pursue sex is basically kicked off by dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and heads up the reward circuitry part of the brain. The evolutionary purpose of dopamine is to motivate a person to do what serves his genes. Dopamine causes a person to want, desire, seek out, and search, and it’s where a person experiences cravings and anticipation of pleasures.

If a man smells the scent of newly baked cookies, dopamine is released and the person is motivated to eat. If a man sees an attractive woman, dopamine is released and he is motivated to have sex. The bigger the flush of dopamine, the more a person wants something. No dopamine and a person will just ignore it. To learn more about dopamine on Truelibido, please go here.

The problem is however, that the dopamine reward system in the brain was not designed to handle a continuous and never-ending steam of novel, naked and gorgeous cyber females available on a silver platter. Today, a single google search is all that stands between a lustful man and millions of dopamine-releasing available, flawless, smiling and naked partners. It is simply too much for our brains to handle. When subjected to this stimulus for too long, the brain goes into overdrive. This has a series of negative effects, and if taken to the extreme, can cause addiction.

When the user starts entering the territory of addiction, he often seeks out pornography despite adverse consequences such as neglecting friends and family, eating poorer, paying less attention to work or other things in life, etc. Other things that used to interest the person, such as playing sports and watching TV shows, may no longer spark much interest in him.

In fact, it has been shown that over-use of pornography may weaken the region of the brain known as the cingulate cortex – the region that is responsible for moral and ethical decision making and willpower.

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After some time of porn use, the body will normally build up tolerance towards it. This means that more extreme forms of porn are needed to trigger the same pleasurable sensations. In other words, the brain starts needing more and more frequent novel females, more unusual sexual situations, and generally more extreme porn in order to sustain the same level of happy sensations.

The reason for this has to do with something called dopamine receptors. In the brain, the neurotransmitter dopamine is produced in one place, and is then transported to dopamine receptors somewhere else in the brain to communicate their messages. When dopamine binds to these receptors, the message is transferred to and interpreted by the receptors.

Over-use of porn will normally cause some of these dopamine receptors to stop working as they are overloaded with dopamine. Therefore, the number of working dopamine receptors declines, and hence, less dopamine can be received and interpreted. In order to achieve the same level of excitement as before, the porn now has to become more extreme than before because more dopamine has to be produced. If this use of more extreme porn is sustained, the number of dopamine receptors will decline further. Now, even more extreme forms of porn are needed to achieve the same sensations. This can go on and on until there are hardly any dopamine receptors left. As a result, extensive use of porn and masturbation may cause permanent or semi-permanent neuroplastic changes in the brain.

Why is this numbing of the dopamine reward system not good?

Because it is very likely to cause erectile dysfunction. The specific term is called porn induced erectile dysfunction. At this point, the brain is so saturated with sexual impulses that only very extreme forms of sexual stimulation will excite the person. The sexual stimulation will often need to be completely novel and provide ultimate control of the situation. Real sex, and particularly real sex with a partner that is not novel, will often not be able to produce adequate desire. The person will often stop being interested in normal sex, and will rather want extreme virtual sex with a cyber partner. Pornography and masturbation has at this point become more desirable than actual sex.

It may sound strange, but the information coming from a computer in symphony with masturbation, can often be preferred to the real thing. Because if real sex is difficult and disappointing, but masturbation and porn works like a charm, porn often becomes a substitute for sex.

Another aspect about porn and masturbation that needs to be mentioned is control. Most men want control. Pornography gives a man the ultimate level of control. He can have sex with whomever he wants, whenever he wants, whichever race or age he wants, in what position he wants, he can have a threesome, foursome, etc., and it all happens on his premises. He can quickly switch between two partners, or three or ten. He can regulate the stimulation he wants by changing the level of masturbation. It is complete control. Sex with another person does normally not offer anywhere close to this level of control. This is also a reason why, after getting used to excessive porn, it may be difficult for a man to get and keep erections when with a real-life partner.

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A second negative consequence from watching porn and masturbating too frequently, is a loss of sexual energy, or libido. Every time a man has an erection, his body uses sexual energy to support this erection. In other words, by having frequent erections, or long lasting erections, his libido reserves are being used. By using up libido reserves faster than the body can build up libido, a man will normally cause libido to diminish.

When these two negative consequences: 1) becoming de-sensitized to sexual stimulation, and 2) a draining of libido, work in tandem, the impact can be a significantly reduced ability to function sexually.

I certainly abused porn. I could at times do this several times a week. I found it pleasant, fun and easy. But I didn’t see the link between numbing my brain with a constant flow of virtual, naked, novel and attractive women — and erectile dysfunction. It just didn’t occur to me at all. In fact, I was thoroughly and utterly confused. Why was I functioning sexually with porn, but not with the real thing? It just didn’t make any sense to me.

The connection only dawned on me after I came across an article that addressed what happens in the brain of people that very often watch pornography and also masturbate.

I was dismissive and skeptical at first. But this reluctance quickly dissipated when I put two and two together. It then made total sense. When a person exercises very hard, the body gets used to the increased exercise and can subsequently handle more exercise. When a person takes a drug over a long period of time, the body will often build tolerance to this drug and the dosage will subsequently have to be increased to have the same effect as before. My body was getting used to, and building tolerance towards, a continuous stream of naked, novel and virtual women. It all of a sudden made complete sense.

As soon as I learned this, I immediately stopped watching porn and I stopped masturbating. I would not do the two combined, and neither would I do them separately. I quit cold turkey. And it has had amazing results. By exposing myself to less sexual stimulation, I wanted more sex. By not touching myself anymore, I became more sensitive to touch.

By reducing the exposure to sexual stimulation, it became much easier for me to get erections when I was with a woman. The sensations were now stronger and it felt more novel and special. It wasn’t just an everyday occurrence anymore. Erectile dysfunction happened less and less. Not only that, but by having less sexual stimulation, I also became hornier overall. My libido increased. I was re-booting my brain. And what kicked all this off was simply the right knowledge of what I was doing to my body

But these problems don’t necessarily only apply to pornography and masturbation. They can also apply to sex. Actual and real sex. In other words, by having too frequent sex, a man can also develop erectile dysfunction and a general disinterest in sex. It may sound strange, but the process is in fact the same as for frequent use of pornography.

If the dopamine reward system in the brain is worn out by too much stimulation, a person will start losing interest in the thing that causes the reward. Imagine if you ate chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a long time. After a while, you would probably not want to see chocolate again. The same goes for sex. In addition, there is the same point about burning libido. Each time a person has an erection or is stimulated, some of this stored-up libido is used. If this is being used more rapidly than it can be replenished, libido will decrease.

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I have also experienced the consequences of having too much sex first hand. There have been periods in my life where I have had so frequent sex that I didn’t want it anymore. It became a chore and a hassle rather than something enjoyable. It got to the point where the thought of sex would not turn me on the slightest.

The good news is that the issues of erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, neuroplastic brain changes, etc., don’t have to be permanent. They can be reversed. By stopping the activity of watching porn and masturbating (or limiting the frequency of sex), the body will normally slowly start to reverse the damages. Bit by bit, normal dopamine function can be restored. However, this normally doesn’t happen overnight. If the extent of the damage is severe, it can take significant time to re-wire the brain. This process took several weeks for me.

I wanted to finish off by saying that I have read some posts in discussion forums where men claim that having sex increases testosterone production, makes them hornier and even having orgasms increases libido. Although the bodies of different men may work differently, I find this hard to believe – unless we are talking about relatively infrequent sex. My opinion is firmly that very frequent sex (or masturbation) over a long period of time will deplete libido, and may make it more difficult to have erections. I my opinion and experience, less is better when it comes to sexual function.

 

Research Studies

Bocher M, Chisin R, Parag Y, Freedman N, Meir Weil Y, et al. (2001) Cerebral activation associated with sexual arousal in response to a pornographic clip: A 15O-H2O PET study in heterosexual men. Neuroimage 14: 105–117. DOI: 10.1006/nimg.2001.0794.

Bronner G, Ben-Zion IZ. Unusual masturbatory practice as an etiological factor in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in young men. J Sex Med. 2014 Jul; 11(7):1798-806. DOI: 10.1111/jsm.12501.

Damiano P, Alessandro B, Carlo F. Adolescents and web porn: a new era of sexuality. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2015 Aug 7. pii: /j/ijamh.ahead-of-print/ijamh-2015-0003/ijamh-2015-0003.xml. DOI: 10.1515/ijamh-2015-0003.

Delmonico DL, Miller JA (2003) The Internet Sex Screening Test: a comparison of sexual compulsives versus non-sexual compulsives. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 18. DOI: 10.1080/1468199031000153900.

Dipl VK , Jurin T, Briken P, Štulhofer A. Erectile Dysfunction, Boredom, and Hypersexuality among Coupled Men from Two European Countries. The Journal of Sexual Medicine Volume 12, Issue 11, pages 2160–2167, November 2015. DOI: 10.1111/jsm.13019.

Grubbs JB, Stauner N, Exline JJ, Pargament KI, Lindberg MJ. Perceived Addiction to Internet Pornography and Psychological Distress: Examining Relationships Concurrently and Over Time. Psychol Addict Behav. 2015 Sep 14.

Hilton DL Jr. Pornography addiction – a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. 2013 Jul 19; 3:20767. DOI: 10.3402/snp.v3i0.20767.

Kuhn S, Gallinat J (2014) Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn. JAMA Psychiatry DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.93.

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Ley D, Prause N, Finn P. The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Review of the ‘Pornography Addiction’ Model. Current Sexual Health Reports 01/2013. DOI: 10.1007/s11930-014-0016-8.

Love T, Laier C, Brand M, Hatch L , Hajela R. Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update. Behav. Sci. 2015, 5(3), 388-433; DOI:10.3390/bs5030388.

Martinez D, Slifstein M, Broft A, Mawlawi O, Hwang DR, et al. (2003) Imaging human mesolimbic dopamine transmission with positron emission tomography. Part II: amphetamine-induced dopamine release in the functional subdivisions of the striatum. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 23: 285–300. DOI: 10.1097/00004647-200303000-00004.

Mouras H, Stoleru S, Bittoun J, Glutron D, Pelegrini-Issac M, et al. (2003) Brain processing of visual sexual stimuli in healthy men: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Neuroimage 20: 855–869. DOI: 10.1016/s1053-8119(03)00408-7.

Olsen CM. Natural Rewards, Neuroplasticity, and Non-Drug Addictions. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Dec; 61(7):1109-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.03.010.

Prause N, Steele VR, Staley C, Sabatinelli D, Hajcak G. Modulation of late positive potentials by sexual images in problem users and controls inconsistent with “porn addiction”. Biol Psychol. 2015 Jul; 109:192-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.06.005.

Sescousse G, Caldu X, Segura B, Dreher JC (2013) Processing of primary and secondary rewards: a quantitative meta-analysis and review of human functional neuroimaging studies. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 37: 681–696. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.02.002.

Sutton KS, Stratton N, Pytyck J, Kolla NJ, Cantor JM. Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases. J Sex Marital Ther. 2015; 41(6):563-80. DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2014.935539.

Voon V, Mole TB, Banca P, Porter L, Morris L, Mitchell S, Lapa TR, Karr J, Harrison NA, Potenza MN, Irvine M. Neural correlates of sexual cue reactivity in individuals with and without compulsive sexual behaviours. PLoS One. 2014 Jul 11; 9(7):e102419. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102419.

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